Andrew Wilson had been staring at the blank sheet of paper for the last five minutes. He tapped out a handful of words on his 1955 Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter that he had bought from a pawn shop in Phoenix for $10 bucks more than twenty years ago. Since then, the typewriter traveled the country with him and helped write hundreds of short stories, twenty-seven novels including a few best sellers, and a motion picture script or two.
The next morning, Andrew returned to his office with a cup of coffee in hand and an egg sandwich on a plate. Setting them on his desk beside the Royal, he pulled out his chair and sat down. He kicked the trash can as he scooted under the desk. He had forgotten about it and the wads of paper he had stashed beneath there. Reaching beneath the desk, he pulled out the trash can and returned it to its place in the corner next to his desk. He felt silly for thinking that the previous days fantastical events were anything more than a stress induced hallucination and laughed.
Andy picked up a sheet of paper from the stack beside the Royal and fed it through the typewriter’s rollers. Once it was ready, he took a sip of his coffee and stared at the blank page. Ready to begin, he set his fingers on the keys and nothing happened. His mind was blank. He closed his eyes and forced the words to come. His fingers tapped them out. The rhythm was slow and disjointed. The words stopped and the tapping soon followed.
“Get your shit together, Andy,” he said to himself. “You’re over thinking this.” He released the sheet out of the typewriter and crumpled it before tossing it over his shoulder. He reached for another blank sheet and slipped it between the Royal’s pressed rollers. Taking a bite from his sandwich, he chewed slowly as he considered his options. The opening line just wouldn’t come to him. Finishing his coffee, Andrew Wilson pushed himself away from the Royal and turned to get a refill.
The wad of paper he expected to find in the middle of the floor was gone. He looked around and found it next to the trash can. “How did you get there?” he asked the empty room. His toss couldn’t have been that far off the mark, unless it had rebounded off of something. Andy shook his head and left his office.
In the kitchen, he changed his mind about the refill and set the empty mug in the dishwasher before returning to his office. Pushing open the door, he stopped short, when he saw what was waiting for him on the other side. The trash can was on its side and the wads of paper had spilled out and formed three mounds around a simple phrase.
Ready to begin?
This was more than a simple stress-induced hallucination. He was losing his mind and would have to schedule an appointment with his psychiatrist at his earliest convenience.
“You’re real?” Andy said. He closed and opened his eyes and found a response waiting.
Of course we’re real. Did you think we were a hallucination?
“Yes. Paper just doesn’t move around by its self,” Andy said. “If you’re not a figment of my imagination, then, what are you?”
We can’t say. But, if you need an explanation, we’ll just say it’s magic. You do believe in magic don’t you?
“No,” Andy said without hesitation. “This isn’t one of my books. There is no magic in this world.”
But there is. You may not have seen it, but it is all around us. We are proof of it.
“You are more likely a hallucination than proof of magic,” Andy said.
And, if you sit down and let us begin, perhaps we can convince you.
Andy considered his options for a moment. For the time being, he would go with it. He was already a day behind schedule. He needed to get started on his next novel. If this hallucination got him started, he didn’t see any harm in using it as a shortcut to his subconscious.
He stepped inside and locked the door behind him. He gave the message and the mounds of paper a wide berth as he took his seat at the Royal. “Alright,” Andy said. “How is this going to work?”
Set up a mirror and we can transpose the letters for you.
“You can do that?” Andy asked, before he realized that the hallucination could certainly do whatever his subconscious needed them to do. As long as it helped him write, he didn’t care. He got up from his chair to fetch a mirror, when he saw several mounds of paper and a short reply.
Yes and so much more.
He stepped around the mounds of paper and left the room. Judy had a couple of table top makeup mirrors in the bedroom and a couple of spares the storage closet. She would never notice if he borrowed one. With mirror in hand, Andy returned to his office. He set it up on the corner of his desk and tilted it downward so he could get a view of the floor immediately behind him.
“Alright,” Andy said, placing his fingers on the keys of his Royal. “I’m ready,” he said. Andrew glanced at the mirror and the first line of text appeared. He read it over and smiled. It was good – better than anything else he had written so far. His gaze returned to the Royal and typed out the line exactly as he had seen it. The next line was waiting for him when he shifted his focus back to the mirror. He typed it out as well. The process was slow at first, but as he became accustomed to the process and the interval between the lines grew shorter and shorter as he ping-ponged from the Royal to the mirror and back again.
When the first page was filled, he quickly released the sheet from the platen and laid it face down on his desk atop the cover page. He grabbed a blank sheet from the stack on the other side and fed it through the Royal. With the page ready to go, he finished off the previous line, before looking to the mirror, where the next line was waiting for him.
The story he was writing through his paper proxy was turning out to be one of his better stories, if the first page was any indication. The word choice, grammar, and even the errors confirmed that he was the story’s true author. Andy found the idea of that his mind powered the paper hallucination and not some mystical magical force. It comforted him.
The hours went by quickly and the stack of finished pages grew larger and larger as the day progressed. Andy was so happy to be writing again, he blew through lunch and continued writing.
Occasionally, Andy checked on the wads of paper to make sure that the words he was seeing in the mirror were indeed being produced by the wads of paper on the floor behind him. He was surprised to see that every letter was perfectly reversed and aligned, giving him the best view possible viewed through the mirror.
The day wore on and the stack of paper on the manuscript side of the Royal grew larger while the blank sheets on its opposite side grew smaller. Andy pulled a full page from the typewriter and placed it text side down. He reached for the next blank page, but found none. He had exhausted the supply he had set aside for the day’s work. Immediately, he reached into the drawer of his desk, pulled out a fresh stack and laid it next to the Royal. Taking the top sheet, he fed it through the typewriter and check the mirror for the next line of text. He stopped short when he saw several mounds scattered around a single word.
“Why do we have to stop? We’re on a roll,” Andy said.
We’ve done well for today. There’s no need to overdo it.
They were right. They had written a couple dozen pages over the course of the day. And, if he was to be totally honest, he did feel a little tired. Andy had worked through lunch after all. “Alright, we’ll stop for the night,” he agreed.
He turned back to the desk and straightened up his workspace. When glanced at the mirror, he caught a glimpse of new message. He turned around.
Give us more paper and we’ll be able to write even more tomorrow.